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Second-term Minnesota state senator Michele Bachmann, a Republican best known for her dogged pursuit of a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, has taken a concrete step toward running for Congress. Bachmann told GOP activists in a letter last week that she was setting up an exploratory campaign committee to weigh a bid for the sixth congressional district seat. She is one of several Republicans expected to get into the race if incumbent representative Mark Kennedy runs for the U.S. Senate in 2006 against Democratic senator Mark Dayton. In the letter, Bachmann, of Stillwater, extols her conservative views. "I have been a leading proponent of defending the right to life of the unborn, upholding our Second Amendment rights, including range protection and private property rights," Bachmann wrote. "Last year I led the effort in Minnesota to pass a constitutional amendment protecting the sanctity of traditional marriage between one man and one woman." The sixth district stretches from the St. Cloud area across the northern Twin Cities suburbs to the Stillwater area. It includes all or most of Anoka, Benton, Sherburne, Stearns, Washington, and Wright counties.